Spirit of freedom shines through with reading of challenged and banned books

Dennis Gosnell

Assignment Editor

Students, faculty, and staff assembled outside of the LRC Oct. 1 to participate in a banned books readout.

“Freedom to read” is the motto of Banned Books Week, a week in which individuals nationwide gather and participate in events that celebrate the First Amendment.

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By 15th Street News Posted in Banned Books, Multimedia, Raider Life Tagged A Light in the attic, A wrinkle in Time, And a Tango Makes Three, Anne Frank, , , Ben Klassen, Bridge To Terabitha, , Dr. Seuss, , Harper Lee, James and the Giant Peach, Katherine Paterson, , Madeleine L''Engle, Oh, Peter Parnell, read out, Ronald Dahl, Shel Silverstien, The Diary Of A Young Girl, , The Lorax, The Places you go, To Kill A Mockingbird, White mans Bible

What was the real message behind the “His Dark Materials” trilogy

Dennis Gosnell

Assignment Editor

For those who have read “The Golden Compass,” “The Subtle Knife,” and the “Amber Spyglass” it would come as no surprise that they have been challenged as inappropriate for schools and public libraries.

Posted on a “Library Thing” thread, user Atomicmutant posted that the series was the “anti-Narnia” of book series.

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By 15th Street News Posted in Banned Books, Entertainment Tagged Amber Spyglass, , banned book, Banned Book Week, , Challenged Book, His Dark Materials. Trilogy, Library Thing, Lyra, Pan, Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife

Staff Banned Book Pick: The Catcher in the Rye

: The Catcher in the Rye

By: Narges Taghavi

Feature Editor

J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” is an exceptional story. Although, it might not be something you’ll find the modern day teenager reading and parents might be startled by the novels unrefined content; the story is one that is timeless.  The story follows sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield; a New Yorker that is unlike most teenage boys. He not interested in pop culture or fitting, because he finds that being real is better than going through life as a copy. Although, he has been kicked out of many schools and does not like learning, he is quite knowledgeable an unorthodox sort of way. Throughout the whole story Holden is a very blunt and honest person that doesn’t fabricate the world and is all about what is real.

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Graphic by Melissa Bednarek

Banned Books Week features read-outs, professor panel

Chelsea Ratterman

Editor In Chief 

The LRC will be hosting student read-outs during Banned Books week from Oct. 2-5. Oct. 1 is the first read-out at 10:30 a.m. in front of the LRC and the second one is at noon on Oct. 2 also in front of the LRC. These read-outs feature students reading excerpts from their favorite challenged book in a circle of peers, as well as faculty and staff participants.  Each day features different books and readers.

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The challenge of challenging books

Dennis Gosnell

Assistant Editor

The challenge of challenging books

Scrappy Doo protects popularly challenged books from being banned.
Photo by Chelsea Ratterman

There are those in the U.S. that would challenge what public libraries and similar institutions put on their shelves.

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“Censory” Deprivation and the First Amendment

Logan Pierce, editor-in-chief

As part of Banned Books Week, Dr. Joey Senat, OSU associate professor, spoke with students about censorship and the First Amendment.

“We are a marketplace of ideas,” Senat said, “In a marketplace, you’re going to have conflicting ideas.”

Senat presented images of the Confederate flag, and asked if anyone was offended by the image. No one responded.

Senat then presented pictures of protestors, holding signs comparing George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler. Some audience members chuckled, while others shifted uncomfortably in their seats.

Next, Senat showed posters of President Obama depicted as the Joker from Batman. Senat said he noticed that those who laughed at the Bush signs were suddenly silenced, and those who were quite before, now laughed at the Obama posters. Everyone discussed the exploits of the Westboro Baptist Church, including their picketing of military funerals. Senat said that some considered Westboro’s signs and comments inflammatory hate speech.

“Is hate speech protected by the First Amendment?” Senat asked. Several audience members said it was not. “Sorry to break it to you,” Senat said, “but hate speech is protected under the First Amendment.”

When discussing banned books, Senat talked about “And Tango Makes Three;” which is the most challenged book of 2006-2008, and 2010.

The children’s picture book, written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins, in New York’s Central Park Zoo, who are given an egg to hatch.

Criticism arose stating the book advocates same-gender families. “We wrote the book to help parents teach children about same-sex parent families.” Justin Richardson said, in a New York Times interview, “It’s no more an argument in favor of human gay relationships than it is a call for children to swallow their fish whole or sleep on rocks.”

Speech should not be fought with censorship, Senat said, “Fight speech with speech. Let truth and falsehood grapple. Truth will win out in the marketplace of ideas.”

Senat compares free speech to the steam valve on a boiler. If people are unable to express themselves, the pressure builds, often exploding with a bloody revolution.

“The First Amendment doesn’t exist to protect popular speech,” Senat said, “It’s designed to protect the unpopular speech that makes your blood boil.”

By 15th Street News Posted in Banned Books, News Tagged “And Tango Makes Three, ” New York’s Central Park Zoo, , censorship, Dr. Joey Senat, George W. Bush, hate speech, marketplace of ideas, OSU, President Obama, protestors, the Confederate flag, the First Amendment, Westboro Baptist Church

Meeting of Minds…. or not

Dennis Gosnell, Assignment Editor

To start off “Banned Books” week, RSC held a panel to discuss the concept of government control over the censorship of books.

KOCO Eyewitness News Anchor Wendell Edwards moderated the panel; which consisted of Rep. Jason Nelson, Former Corporation Commissioner Jim Roth, and Executive Vice President of the Oklahoma Press Association Mark Thomas.

The panel discussed the need for caution in deciding to ban a book and the ways that Oklahoma has dealt with this issue. The central question remains, is it right or wrong for government to decide what is banned or what is not.

One issue discussed was the King and King book by Linda de Haan, which became the focus of removal attempts by politicians to ensure that young children had no access to it.  Some community members found the book offensive because it teaches acceptance of people’s choice in life partners which differ from societal norms.

“When deciding what to do about this situation we came to a compromise, with the book and other books of sensitivity being added to a ‘parental’ section,” Roth said. This was done to allow the books to remain accessible to all.

An audience member questioned the policy of selecting and segregating books to the parental section based on their content. “We wanted to allow books to be accessible to everyone, but to appease some there needed to be a compromise,” Roth said.

The panel went on to discuss the difference between censorship and self-censorship. The two are considerably different. Censorship, by law-making entities, reflects the banning or limiting of accessibility of selected books for everyone.

Self-censorship is an individual taking the responsibility to maintain their ethics by limiting access specifically for themselves and their children without compromising the greater accessibility of others.

“’Offense is subjective and becomes the responsibility of those parents who should be aware of what a child reads,” Roth said. On this issue the panel agreed that forcing others to limit their access to knowledge is wrong and that individuals who take offense to a book should ignore it, so that others don’t lose accessibility.

When Edwards questioned the panel about whether the government had a right to control access of information. The panel agreed that such control would diminish human rights and would create a frightening environment.

Laws to restrict accessibility of books infringe on rights granted in the Bill of Rights. “Government does not represent an individual but the majority and minority equally,” Thomas said. To ensure that the community has input in their library collections, community library boards are formed to determine which books reflect the neighborhood values.

When the panel adjourned, they agreed that banning a book limits the forward progress of a democratic society and hinders intellectual development.

Attendees watch as Wendell Edwards, KOCO Eyewitness Anchor, moderates banning books debate with Rep. Jason Nelson, Jim Roth, former Corporation Commissioner, and Mark Thomas, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Press Association. Photo by Dennis Gosnell

Controversy over the role of censorship in the arts

By: Brittany McDaniel, News Editor

Professor Kristin Hahn led the third installment of the Great Issue Lecture Series with her presentation, Censorship in the Arts, Wednesday, Oct. 27 in the RSC Lecture Hall.

Hahn began her lecture with a quiz to attendees, providing questions that forged into discussions concerning how literature and the arts are censored in today’s society.

Hahn gave examples of banned and challenged books, some of which, by modern standards, are classics. The widely read “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain stirred up controversy with its use of racial slurs. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald caused concern with the use of language and sexual references. According to a database from the American Library Association, the groups most often challenging books are parents. Their main basis for the challenge is sexually explicit text.

So when is censorship of a work appropriate, and when does it constitutional rights like freedom of speech? Hahn walked the audience through some examples.

In 2005, the children’s book “King and King” was placed in the adult section of the Oklahoma Metropolitan Library System because aspects of homosexuality in the book were deemed inappropriate for younger readers. The complaint came from a parent who was not happy the book was accessible to her child. The library system restricted access of that book, and in doing so, controlled who was allowed to read it.

In the realm of art, success of a work is based on highly valued opinions. Critics say what is worth looking at and what is not. However, art critics are not the only ones interested in giving opinions about art. In 1987, the Andres Serrano photograph “Piss Christ” sparked controversy around the world. The photo depicted a crucifix emerged in a jar of urine. The photographic image of the art does not appear to be obscene, yet the process in which Serrano created his artwork was, for many, a source of outrage. Several US senators called for a halt of government grants issued to help fund his art.

Censorship does not necessarily mean taking down art based on fundamental differences. In the case of Australian artist Bill Henson, the basis for censorship was protection. In 2008, Henson placed several photos on display at the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in Sydney, Australia. Many of the photos on display showed children posing nude. One in question exhibited a nude 13-year-old female. Miranda Devine, an Australian columnist, wrote about the photos in an editorial, describing them as an example of the “over sexing” of children. Henson faced charges that were eventually dropped after a careful review of his work.

Despite personal opinion, censorship has proved itself to be a useful in restricting and controlling public access to questionable works. The fact remains that censorship is alive and kicking, whether or not the basic principles are supported or opposed. The question to ask is when does censorship go to far and where does it not go far enough.